Council resignations and surprising alliances

By KIERAN FINNANE

This report updates last night’s brief post.

 

 

Councillors Marli Banks (left) and Catherine Satour (below right), who last Friday both announced that they will contest the upcoming NT election, gave notice of their resignation from council tonight, effective 9 July.

 

Both are running as members of new player on the scene, the Federation Party, led in the NT by Cr Eli Melky.

 

Cr Banks will contest the seat of Braitling; Cr Satour, the seat of Namatjira.

 

Two other Elected Members of council are contesting the election: Mayor Damien Ryan (in Araluen) and Deputy Mayor Matt Paterson (also in Namatjira). Neither have yet announced their resignation from council.

 

Crs Banks and Satour both cited Section 39(6) of the Local Government Act 2008, which, in the timeframe they are in, allows them to be reinstated to council if they’re unsuccessful in August.

 

Cr Banks also referred to wanting to “alleviate any public scrutiny” around a perceived conflict of interest in balancing her role as councillor and as candidate.

 

“Having been a strong advocate for governance improvements and management of conflict of interests, I understand the importance of ensuring that conflicts are managed so to not interfere with the integrity of council,” she said, reading from her letter of resignation.

 

“It is not surprising that so many Elected Members have chosen to contest the upcoming [elections],” she continued.

 

“This push back by Elected Members on this council is due to the palaver of the dealings surrounding the National Aboriginal Art Gallery and the misinformation that continues to be propagandised by the current government.

 

“The views and good work of [council] are being treated with contempt and have been tainted by the current NT Government who are unwilling to work towards shared outcomes for the best interest of the community as a whole.”

 

She noted with pride a long list of achievements by council and of future projects (some of them in collaboration with the Nt Government). These are reproduced at the bottom of this report.

 

Cr Satour was briefer – she too was resigning “to uphold the integrity of council”.

 

She also made a point of the way that she sees her representative role: “I have often been on record that any time I walk into chamber, I walk in not by myself, I walk in with all of family, all of my friends, all of my supporters, all of my constituents and all of my ancestors.”

 

In a gratifying exit for her, the motion proposing a $200,000 Arts Industry COVID19 Recovery Package, after protracted debate a fortnight ago, was passed unanimously.

 

Willshire Street: council backs name change 

 

A surprising pair moved a motion tonight to express support for a change of name for Willshire Street: they were Cr Jimmy Cocking (below left), mover, and Cr Jacinta Price (below right), seconder, who earlier in this council term were locked in the agonising Code of Conduct saga.

.

They were responding to the call of local resident, Suki Dorras-Walker, in a letter sent earlier this month to all councillors and made public shortly after. 

 

Her letter succinctly outlines some of the more egregious details of Willshire’s biography – his involvement in killings of Aboriginal people and sexual predation upon Aboriginal women.

 

The supporting material for the motion was circulated to Elected Members by Cr Price. It includes a lengthy interview by Alice Springs News editor Erwin Chlanda with historian Dick Kimber, asking “Was Willshire a murderer?”  (This can be found in our foundation archive, links provided below). Cr Price also provided an impassioned piece by her father, David Price. 

 

He writes in part: “[Willshire] freely admitted to shooting dead ‘innumerable Aboriginal people in the course of his patrols in the interior’ in his own writings. He also admitted to taking the head of one of the men he shot so that his mate could turn the skull into a spittoon.

 

“His ‘three slim volumes’ of ‘unsophisticated’ writings combined reasonably accurate information on the cultures of the people he encountered with ‘boys’ own’ type adventure stories with himself as hero.

 

“There are lots of erotically charged references to ‘delectable’, but uncontrollably licentious, dusky maidens. He was willing to allow his Aboriginal troopers to regard women surviving their violence as ‘spoils of war’, a practice also common in Queensland.

 

“He often had young women in his entourage and took them with him on trips to Adelaide and Port Augusta. He refused to recognise, the widely acknowledged, problem of abduction, or seduction, leading to sexual exploitation of Aboriginal women and refused to do anything about it. Providence had placed these women in the country to be settled for the use of the settlers.”

 

The full text can be found in last night’s council papers.

 

The motion also provided for community consultation “to determine a recommendation of potential names to formally submit to the Place Names Committee”, an NT Government entity.

 

Councillor debate on the issues took place very late in the last committee meetings, brought up in General Business by Cr Cocking. (I left the meeting at 10pm and it still hadn’t been raised.)

 

Last night discussion was confined to process.

 

Can the community consultation influence the final decision, in keeping with the principles distilled by the International Association for Public Participation Australasia, asked Deputy Mayor Matt Paterson.

 

In relation to street naming, the process is tricky: council must do all the consultation and pay for it but an Place Naming Committee makes the final decision.

 

Cr Jamie de Brenni also suggested council, in the event of a name change, should look at providing assistance to residents of Willshire Street, some of whom are elderly, to update all their personal records.

 

The motion was carried unanimously.

 

Notes:

 

The following are the decisions of the 13th Council that Cr Banks says have delivered benefit to the community:

 

Passing Three consecutive Municipal Plans and Budgets

2018-2021 Strategic Plan

Investing in Master planning

Advocating to protect ANZAC Oval against compulsory acquisition

Advocating to the NTG to not lift the Moratorium on Fracking

Advocating for the Alice Springs Water Control District to be put off limits to Unconventional

Shale Gas Exploration And Drilling

Implementation of ASTC Reconciliation Action Plan 2019-2021

Implementation of ASTC Climate Action Plan

Adoption of ASTC Conflicts Management Policy

Adoption of Alice Springs Sports Facility Master Plan

Introducing a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony at Australia Day Celebrations

Contribution to the Lhere Mbantua Strategy

Increase of Solar Array at the Aquatic and Leisure Centre

Supporting the Community through Covid-19

Facilitating Rate Relief for Business and Residents struggling with the financial impacts of

Covid-19

Covid-19 Hardship Package

Delivering a freeze on rates for 2020/2021 Municipal Plan

Delivering $6.2M in Sporting Facility Upgrades

Completion of the Ilparpa Road Upgrades

Commencement of the Ilparpa Foot Path

 

 

And these are the future projects that she is proud of:

CBD Revitalisation Projects

Youth Hub and Library Upgrades

Kwatja (Water) Park

Todd Mall Entrance

Traeger Park Mural

Expansion of FOGO [food and green waste trials]

Implementation of the ASTC Public Art Master & Action Plan

Arts Support Package

Public parks refurbishment program

Sporting Facilities Lighting Upgrades

 

 

Links to the December 2008 Alice Springs News series of interviews with Dick Kimber on Willshire. These are archived by issue, scroll down to find the relevant headline.

 

Was Willshire a murderer? Part 1.

The notorious MC Willshire: colleague doubted his sanity. Part 2.

Accused murderer MC Willshire: how would you have judged him? Part 3.

 

 

 

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18 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Maxine Cook
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    @ Gavin: I agree with Gavin and the others. We need to put a stop to all this constant complaining about things that happened in our past history.
    None of us were around back then, so why are some of these people, today, trying to make us all feel guilty for things other people did through history.
    It has been going overboard lately, with the activists wanting us to even change what we call food, or reprint labels because they have a drawing of people from two different nations.
    How that is an insult to them I don’t know. If they keep going with this removal of all history and statues etc the world is going to become a very boring place.
    Our history and cultures is what has made the world such an interesting place. All cultures history is equally important to all of us, not just to a selective few.
    Our street names used to be easily spelt and pronounced, but they are starting to become a problem with some in the same town, sounding the same or are hard to spell.
    The whole idea of calling something by name, is to be able to distinguish it from something else, to describe it.
    We have somehow become a world where you are not allowed to describe an object anymore, for fear that an other human being might think it is describing them.
    Really we have more important things to fix together at the moment.
    We all should stand together and stop the few from trying to open a can of worms!
    It will not be like relocating to an other address, for the residents in that street. If they are home owners, they are going to have a lot if legal paperwork to have to change also, the implications can be endless, and costly. Not good for anyone.

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  2. A resident who lives in town
    Posted July 2, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    I am a local born and bred from Alice and no one ever cared about street names until all that stuff happened in America. It had nothing to do with Australia. Our History has been here for us to learn and know what happened in the early days. It is just a street name. And that street has a meaning for our families who grew up living and playing in Wilshire Street. As well, I don’t think anyone should change our street names. That’s local history good or bad just like today we have good and bad living with us all and times have changed over the years. Its pretty sad when you have to worry about a street name. When there is so much more happening in this town to worry about.

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  3. Mike Gillam
    Posted July 2, 2020 at 9:58 am

    A backlash was predictable but I’m surprised by the use of “economic sanctions” on our region!
    In the affairs of human relations and community bridge building this is a very, very small action. Clearly some of those skeletons in family cupboards must be rattling.
    I’d be surprised if there were any serious threat to Stuart’s statue or his marble form in Adelaide. Mind you, when I think of Stuart it’s not a Daniel Boone frontiersman lookalike that springs to mind but the almost blind and half starved invalid supported on an improvised stretcher between a couple of skeletal horses.
    Amazing subject matter for any sculptor.
    Stuart is described in Wikipedia as “… a slight, delicately built young man, standing 5’6” tall (168 cm) …” This indefatigable Scotsman and brilliant explorer died in London at the age of 50, destitute and forgotten.
    I agree with Hal’s comment that our community has stepped onto a slippery slope but I reckon we’re mature and brave enough to navigate through.
    There are other street names that acknowledge historical figures with a chequered past and in some cases it’s their later acts of redemption that are truly inspirational.
    Our history would be a blank book if all the flawed characters were expunged so those naive enough to believe in good and evil stereotypes should be careful what they wish for.
    The lessons of Willshire include some very brave and honourable Europeans and some murderous native constables with their own agendas.

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  4. Gavin Carpenter
    Posted July 1, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    Clowns are usually funny but there is certainly nothing funny about the local council mob.
    Those that want a name change, put your hand in your pocket and pay for it, don’t suck on the council (ratepayers) nipple.
    What happened 100 years ago, 1000 years ago, 5000 years ago is unchangeable just in case your unaware of this fact.
    Get over it, get a life and do something constructive for society.

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  5. Frank Baarda
    Posted July 1, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    What’s in a name?
    In Kalgoorlie the police station is in Brookman Street. The brothels were in Hay Street.
    They are both the same street.
    In Yuendumu we have Conniston Street. They have mis-spelt Coniston which is best known for a 1928 massacre.
    Some years ago Yuendumu was going to change a number of street names. Conniston St, was going to be renamed Gough Whitlam Avenue. It never happened. On the way to the Place Names Committee office there were countless insurmountable bureaucratic hurdles.
    I live in Quandong Street. The nearest Quandong tree is in the Olive Pink botanical gardens. Maybe I should campaign to have my street changed to Mulga Street.
    @ Germaine: Can you please explain how this is about Aboriginal money?
    I’m told Alice Springs has a No Name Street.
    Problem solved.

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  6. Germaine
    Posted July 1, 2020 at 10:52 am

    My father served in WWII in a highly classified project that left him a physical and mental wreck.
    He gave his all to give what we enjoy today freedom.
    I find those today that pontificate on history as if they are pure hypocritical.
    This ridiculous street sign issue is about Aboriginal money and ALL Australia knows it.
    I feel the game is up anyway, there is no more money as we will find out by September, it’s going to be a very hard fiscal time for Australia.
    I count seven of my friends who lived in Alice Springs have already left for the Eastern seaboard.

    View Comment
  7. Surprised!
    Posted July 1, 2020 at 10:00 am

    In essence I agree with what Hal and James have written. History and science in this regard have a lot in common.
    The more time that passes by allows for more research and other facts become relevant or are discovered.
    Let’s not try change the past and subsequently be held back by it.
    Let’s accept what happened in the past and learn from the many mistakes that were made.
    This will help us all in the long run.

    View Comment
  8. Verity Stafford
    Posted June 30, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    I find this divisive history a wedge against Aboriginal People joining in Australia. We do not see any of this type of politicking from Migrants. Why does this come mainly from Caucasians, often from remote areas? Is is for personal gain at the expense of Aboriginal People?
    Surely $33 Billion for 3% of the population has nothing to do with this?
    This is blood and misery money perpetuated for the Aboriginal industry. Some call it organised genocide.
    Anyone who genuinely cares for Aboriginal people would not want to put their names in this Völkermord.

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  9. Posted June 30, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    @ Scotty (Posted June 30, 2020 at 4:45 pm): “By the way, Willshire was not found guilty of anything” – while in turn Lindy Chamberlain was found guilty.
    History shows the decisions of courts are not sacrosanct; and in both examples, the findings were (at a minimum) miscarriages of justice.

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  10. Scotty
    Posted June 30, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Alice Springs council are an absolute joke.
    By the way, Willshire was not found guilty of anything. Some Aboriginals are always complaining about black lives matter.
    Take a look at history and the worst atrocity to man or woman was when the Nazis killed over 6 million Jews who were white in colour.
    All lives matter.

    View Comment
  11. Posted June 30, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Those who support this decision have provided their full names, those opposed (as I write) seem to be a little bit shy.

    View Comment
  12. Hermann Weber
    Posted June 30, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    Well, words fail me…….

    View Comment
  13. Hal Duell
    Posted June 30, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    This is a very slippery slope we are taking. I am not saying we shouldn’t take it as Willshire was by all accounts, including his own, a predatory racist and a murderer.
    But, and it’s a big but, once the iconoclasts get some wind in their sails, what comes next. The book burners are already out in force.
    Mark Twain’s US classic novel Tom Sawyer is under attack because in it he has one character named Nigger Jim. Admittedly this is unacceptable in today’s world, but a century and a half ago it was fully acceptable.
    I wonder if they, the iconoclasts, will turn their attention to the Old Testament.
    As for Stuart’s statue, get over it. He was a very important historical figure here in the Centre, and he was not a bad man. If there is a desire to address a perceived color bias in that park, nominate a countryman to accompany him. I am sure Council will fall all over themselves to comply.

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  14. James
    Posted June 30, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    Why stop at a street name? I mean how much do we really know about superintendent Sir Charles Todd’s wife who this town is named after?
    Let’s just rewrite history and leave out the people that were bad, I’m sure that’s a good idea.
    Or maybe we leave things as they are and learn from them and teach kids about these things?
    I can only assume there will be an audit on all street names and the same process will take place on all streets with issues or is this just a token gesture that really means nothing?

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  15. George F
    Posted June 30, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    Sadly as a result of this racist decision regarding Willshire Street, a very prominent business woman has withdrawn all her vast investment portfolio from Alice Springs and the Northern Territory and be transferred in other States in Australia.
    This means there will be jobs lost throughout regional NT.
    Small things big losses.

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  16. Sue Fielding
    Posted June 30, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    Thank you Suki for bringing community voice to Council. Thank you councillors for your unanimous vote to redress this painful error.

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  17. Rod Moss
    Posted June 30, 2020 at 11:55 am

    Strongly endorse the motion and Mike’s suggestions.

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  18. Mike Gillam
    Posted June 30, 2020 at 7:07 am

    A welcome decision, especially given its unanimous support in an often divided chamber.
    Can we consider placing beneath the bold new street name, some reference to “formerly Willshire St.” in fine print with a link / QR code etc directing all to Council’s website with a summary of Willshire’s nefarious role in the history of Centralia and the processes that culminated in re-naming the street.

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